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Syracuse Mayor Walsh details “Syracuse Surge” plan in annual State of the City address

By Eric Reinhardt


Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh on Thursday night outlined details of the “Syracuse Surge” initiative as part of his State of the City address at the Redhouse Peforming Arts Center at 400 S. Salina St. in Syracuse. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh on Thursday night used his second State of the City address to provide details of what officials are calling the “Syracuse Surge” initiative, which involves several elements.

“The Syracuse Surge is a big plan, probably the biggest economic growth initiative ever put forth by the City of Syracuse,” said Walsh, noting his administration has been working with partners in government, business, and the nonprofit community to make it happen.

Walsh delivered his speech at the Redhouse Performing Arts Center at 400 S. Salina St. in downtown Syracuse.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday also mentioned the “Syracuse Surge” in his State of the State address, but only provided a few details.

The Syracuse Surge is the plan “to make Syracuse a world leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and “jumpstart investment to create economic growth, shared prosperity and neighborhood transformation,” Walsh said.

Earlier in his remarks, Walsh described the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” as that which “depends on connectivity — to one another, to jobs, to the internet, devices and data.”

The Syracuse Surge “will be fueled by more than $200 million in public and private funding committed already,” Walsh noted in his remarks.

“Southside Campus for the New Economy”

The Syracuse Surge “will rise on a signature investment: The Southside Campus for the New Economy,” said Walsh.

It’ll include several properties in the area Southeast of downtown, “leveraging the momentum created by more than $125 million invested there over the last six years.”

“The campus will have best-in-class broadband and the ability to seamlessly pull data from sensors across the City, enabling unparalleled opportunities to teach and learn in innovative new secondary, post-secondary and vocational programs,” Walsh said.

STEAM school

A new regional Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math, or STEAM, will be the “predominant” feature of the campus school. It will be built in a fully restored and modernized former Central High School.

The school — planned in a partnership between the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, Syracuse City School District, and Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services (OCM BOCES) — will “capitalize on the city’s successes” in career and technical education, making it available to students from districts throughout the region.

New street lights

The City of Syracuse is purchasing more than 17,500 street lights that are located throughout the city. The street lights will provide more than $3 million in annual savings for the city’s operating budget, “based on maintenance and energy efficiencies.”

Part of the upgrade also includes the installation of a network that connects every light to a central operating system. “We will know the moment a light goes out, allowing us to provide a better, proactive service,” Walsh said.

Walsh said that in partnership with Gov. Cuomo and the New York Power Authority, the city has selected Bedford, Massachusetts–based CIMCON Lighting, as well as New York City–based Presidio and San Jose, California–based Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), to implement the street-light project and also “to make Syracuse the flagship smart city in New York State.”

As Walsh described it, “being a ‘smart city’ increasingly means leveraging technology to advance our economy and create opportunity for all of our citizens.”

New York Center for Smart Cities

The New York Center for Smart Cities will be a “first of its kind space in the state and in the country,” according to Walsh. It will be home to a municipal command center, where practitioners from across regional-government departments can learn from the data captured by the street-light network in order to make “better” real-time decisions on the best way to deploy municipal resources.

For example, in the case of a major building fire, the municipal command center would be able to quickly pull up the history of incidents at that property.

Center City Innovation Hub

The Center City Innovation Hub is an “expansion of the innovation infrastructure” at the southern end of downtown with Warren Street serving as its “spine.”

Walsh noted the growth of companies, such as TCG Player and SpinCar, which are operating in that area.

The Center City Innovation Hub will provide the infrastructure necessary for “ongoing growth of our innovation economy,” the mayor contended. Future plans include expanding the Tech Garden and “executing major improvements” to the streetscape around AXA plaza and the “nearby convention district.”

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